The 3-S Demo Video Method

For PMMs, demo videos are an opportunity to shine. 
Product-driven stories that can reach millions of people.
Compelling. Vivid. Concise.

But making one can be frustrating and slow if you approach it wrong.

Here’s my 3-S Method to deliver the best demo video, fastest.
It involves partners: creative, video, agencies, and your peers & boss.

The built-in iteration gets earlier engagement, and a better, faster result.

3-S: Storyboard, Showflow, Script

S is for Storyboard

A storyboard is a sequence of images that tells the flow of a story.

A demo video is a story.

Here’s a storyboard for a scene from Hitchcock’s North by Northwest.

Like Hitchcock, you’re getting the idea down to share it with partners.

Pictures work best to get an idea across, so start with pictures, not words.

  • I do this in a slide deck, it makes it easy to play with the order
  • Make slides for the most exciting product screens in your story
  • Then fill in the connective visual scenes/slides
  • Limit one image (screenshot or drawing) per slide
  • Resist the temptation to add words – constrain yourself to images
  • If you’re showing non-GA stuff, get UX to help

Then sit down with creative and video folks to click through the flow.

Notice what gets across without your help.
Notice where they get lost.
Notice where it takes too long to get to the point.
Cut.

Brainstorm other ways to order the story. Elements to add, remove.

Repeat with your peers, then repeat with your boss.

S is for Showflow

Next up we’ll make a spreadsheet called a Showflow. 

One row per scene: a scene #, name, and time (in seconds) for each.
Time yourself mock-talking through each scene to rough-estimate the time.
Total up the seconds to see an initial length of your video.

If it totals up to 6 minutes, you’ve got a lot of cutting and simplifying to do.

Sit down with creative and video folks to talk through the showflow.
Discuss how long we should spend on each scene.

You will discover where you need to split one scene into two.
Or merge two scenes into one and do it more simply.

And you’ll spot places where the sequence doesn’t make sense.
Or we’re taking too long to get to the main point.

S is for Script

Finally, we draft a script for the narrator.

The script is the most time-consuming (for you) part of the process.
Doing it after you’ve nailed your storyboard and showflow wastes less work.

Add a script column to the showflow – and write it in for each scene.

You’ll discover you’ve got way too many words for each image.
Go back and figure out how to simplify the words, or add more scenes.

Shorten your sentences. Shorten your words. Active verbs.

Now review this with partners, peers, and boss. 

Now put it all together and record yourself reading the script…
While flipping through the slides. 

You’ll find even more to fix.
And that your language is still too complicated 🙂

Rewrite, cut, simplify.

Now perform the thing for a live group of creative, peers, boss.
Embrace the feedback. Be willing to try different things.

I’ve spelled this out in detail, so it sounds involved,

But with practice you can do it in a week. Shazaam.

Production

When your video team has a rough cut, review it with everyone.

Small tweaks can make a big difference. Push for them.

You’ll get a great final product.

Other Opinionated Notes

The ideal length for a demo video is 2 minutes, 18 seconds. 
Like a pop song.

But mini-demos of 20-35 seconds have become popular. Same process.
And now we all love animated gifs? Storyboard even more important.

Demo videos should be 90% product screens. 
Though a little live action is okay for setup and conclusion, 
but it gets overdone, and feels generic.

Go make a demo video. It’s a key part of your PMM skillset.

From the front porch in Moss Beach,
Todd

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